It is important that you are fully prepared for an emergency evacuation.
Why should emergency evacuation planning take place?
The main objectives in emergency evacuation planning are to ensure that:
- everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency; and
- preparations for potential and unexpected incidents at the workplace have taken place.
What are the types of emergencies to consider when planning evacuation procedures?
The types of emergencies to plan for include:
- gas leak;
- incidents with hazardous substances;
- bomb threats;
- armed confrontations; and
- natural disasters.
Who is responsible for evacuation procedures in the workplace?
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996, the employer, main contractor, self-employed person or person having control of the workplace must ensure that there is an evacuation procedure in place to protect anyone on the premises in the event of an emergency.
Evacuation procedures must be developed in consultation with employees and safety and health representatives (if any).
What are the legislative requirements that must be met?
The following is a brief checklist of the legislative requirements for the person who has control of a workplace or control of the access to or egress from a workplace:
- An evacuation procedure has been prepared. The evacuation procedure is clearly and prominently displayed at the workplace, where practicable.
- A diagram showing the location of exits, and the position of the diagram in relation to the exits, is clearly and prominently displayed at the workplace, where practicable.
- The evacuation procedure is practised at the workplace at reasonable intervals, where practicable.
- The workplace is arranged so that people can safely move within it and the passages for the purposes of movement are always kept free of obstructions.
- The means of access to and egress from the workplace enable people to move safely to and from the workplace and at all times are kept free of obstructions.
- Emergency exits from a workplace are safe in the event of an emergency and clearly marked, for example, the exists are easily accessed and are free from obstruction.
- Efficient portable fire extinguishers are provided. These must be located and distributed in accordance with Australian Standard, AS 2444-2001: Portable fire extinguishers and fire blankets - Selection and location.
- Portable fire extinguishers are regularly maintained.
- Training is provided on how to use fire extinguishers and other safety equipment to people who will be required to help control or extinguish a fire at the workplace.
- Smoking and naked flames are banned from any part of the workplace where there are goods or materials which, in the event of a fire, are likely to burn with extreme rapidity, emit poisonous fumes or cause explosions, and there is a risk of harm or injury from ignition.
- The workplace is maintained in a clean condition to avoid hazards to people.
- Rubbish, building materials and plant are stored away from footpaths and roadways at the workplace.
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